Published online Jun 22, 2015. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v5.i2.243
Peer-review started: October 9, 2014
First decision: November 14, 2014
Revised: March 17, 2015
Accepted: April 1, 2015
Article in press: April 7, 2015
Published online: June 22, 2015
AIM: To provide a systematic update of the evidence concerning the relationship between economic recession and suicide.
METHODS: A keyword search of Ovid Medline, Embase, Embase Classic, PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES was performed to identify studies that had investigated the association between economic recession and suicide.
RESULTS: Thirty-eight studies met predetermined selection criteria and 31 of them found a positive association between economic recession and increased suicide rates. Two studies reported a negative association, two articles failed to find such an association, and three studies were inconclusive.
CONCLUSION: Economic recession periods appear to increase overall suicide rates, although further research is warranted in this area, particularly in low income countries.
Core tip: This review provides evidence for an association between economic recession and suicide at the ecological level. There is also evidence that the most recent recession is associated with an increase in suicide rates in high income countries such as Europe and North America. Methodological issues somewhat limit the comparability of some of the studies. High income countries were overrepresented in included studies, meaning that future studies in this area should focus their analyses on low and middle income countries wherever possible. More individual level analyses are also required in order to identify causal associations between economic recession and suicide.